The quintessential treats that come to mind to enjoy with a cup of Tea are scones. Loved the world over and called by so many different names, they are nonetheless, delicious for Afternoon or Morning Tea. Whether you like to say Devonshire Tea, Cream Tea, Devon Cream Tea, Cornish Tea, Tea and Scones or High tea, follow these tips and recipes to make perfect light, soft and well-textured scones.

Scones are said to have originated in Scotland where they were made from oats. They were cooked over an open fire or on top of the fuel stove. The dough was called a ‘bannock’ that was cut into 6 or 8 pieces known as ‘scones’ and cooked on a griddle. Some of the legends around scones say that the word ‘scone’ has a link to the Stone or Scone of Destiny where the Kings of Scotland were crowned. Others say it is a Dutch word ‘schoon’ that means bread or ‘schonbrot’ from Germany meaning beautiful bread. It was not until the invention of baking powder that scones became the light, airy and leavened baked goods that we enjoy today.

“Afternoon tea needn’t stand on ceremony. Anything that becomes more important than sweet fellowship, whether lace or linen or the china itself, is pretense. How much more we enjoy life when the pretenses are discarded!

 Paul Kortepeter

The best thing about scones is that you can make them so quickly with little preparation time. So they are really easy to pop in the oven when guests arrive. The butter can be taken straight from the fridge and the oven will get hot by the time you’ve made them. They are quick to make and loved by everyone as the ultimate morning or afternoon tea treat.

Ten Tips for Good Scones

  1. Accurately measure the ingredients especially at first, until you get the hang of the ratio of dry ingredients to liquid. The ideal dough is soft and sticky with a ratio of one part liquid to three parts flour 1:3.

2. Use a glass measuring cups for liquids and metal for dry ingredients.

3. Always sift the flour or other dry ingredients to add in extra air.

4. Check the use by date of the self-raising flour because if stale the raising agent may not work.

5. Scones are best made with your hands, as lightly as possible, rather than using a mixmaster or food processor.

6. The butter must be very cold and all other ingredients at room temperature

7. Add the butter to the dry ingredients by cutting the butter into small pieces and gently rubbing it between your fingers to add air into the mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, not a smooth dough.

8. Work fast when making scones once the liquid is added. The idea is to get them into the oven as fast as possible.

9. Once the dry ingredients are combined a ‘well’ can be made in the centre for adding the liquid ingredients. Use a metal spatula knife not a spoon. It is important not to over mix because it causes too much gluten to be developed in the dough that will result in tough, dry scones on baking.

10. Make sure the temperature is high and the oven is hot for making making scones.

My copper kettle whistles merrily,  And signals that it is time for Tea,
The fine china cups are filled with the brew, There’s lemon and sugar and sweet cream too, But, best of all there’s friendship, Between you and me,  As we lovingly share our afternoon Tea.

Marianna Arolin 

Buttermilk scones

Self-raising flour 3 cups

Castor sugar 2 tablespoon

Unsalted butter 40 grams

Buttermilk 2 cups

An egg mixed or milk for glazing the top

Thickened cream 300 mls

Strawberry or Raspberry jam 250 grams

Vanilla Essence 2 tps

Preheat oven 220 C
Grease a scone tray or line with silicon baking paper
Sift the flour and sugar ( 1 Tablespoon) together into a large bowl twice to add extra air in.
Rub in the butter with your fingertips very lightly and add air as you go by raising your hands up and sprinkling the mix into the bowl as you work. Form a well in the centre of the flour mix and gently add the buttermilk using a spatula knife not a spoon. Do not overmix just bring together into a sticky dough.

Cover your fingers and hands with some flour and gently knead mix slightly into a soft sticky dough. Work quite quickly.
Knead very lightly on floured surface until smooth enough to shape either with cutters or a knife. Place the scones close together on the tray.
Be careful not to overwork the dough
Gently knead any scraps of dough together and repeat process
Brush the tops with egg glaze or milk but be careful not to dribble it down the sides or it may cause the scones to not rise.
Bake about 10-12 mins or until scones sound hollow when tapped Remove from the oven and wrap in a dry clean tea towel Meanwhile beat the cream, vanilla and some caster sugar ( 1 Tablespoon) until soft peaks form.
Serve the scones, strawberry or raspberry jam and cream with your favourite fine china.

Lemonade Scones

Self-raising our 3 cups

Lemonade 1 cup

One cup of cream

A pinch of salt

Jam and thickened cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 200 C
Sift the flour into a large bowl.
Add the cream and then the lemonade.
Very gently combine the ingredients into soft sticky dough
The idea is to trap all the bubbles within the dough so handle it as little as possible.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently roll it out to a thickness of about 2 cm with a rolling pin or your hands.
Cut your scones out with a cutter or knife.
Arrange evenly on a tray close together and bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden.
Serve with jam and thickened cream

Date Scones

Full Cream milk 150mls or 2/3 cup

Pure Cream 150mls or 2/3 cup

One Egg

Self -raising our 3 cups

Caster sugar 2 tablespoons

Chopped dried dates 1 cup

Zest of one lemon

Whipped cream and jam

Preheat oven to 200 C
Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
In a medium bowl use a hand whisk to mix the milk, cream and egg until well combined.
Add the flour, sugar, dates and lemon zest and gently stir together with a spoon until mixed.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and gently form into soft dough. Press the dough out to about 2cm thick, gently.
Using a cookie cutter or glass to cut the scones from the dough and place onto the baking tray close together.
Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with some extra castor sugar. Bake for 12 or 15 minutes until golden brown
Serve warm with jam and cream.

Scone Etiquette

According to ‘Tea Etiquette Faux Pas Other Misconceptions About Afternoon Tea’ by Ellen Easton 2004

‘ It is not only improper to slice a scone, horizontally to be slathered in jam and cream it is considered very common behavior!

The correct manner in which one eats a scone is the same manner in which one eats a dinner roll. Simply break off a bite-size piece, place it on your plate, and then apply, with your bread and butter knife, the jam and cream.

High Tea Sandwiches

“Too few people understand a really good sandwich”.

James Beard.

Delicate finger sandwiches are a customary part of Afternoon Tea and usually have their own dedicated tier on the High Tea stand. To make appetizing sandwiches the main things to consider are taste, (so not too overpowering), colour, shape, variety, texture, and freshness. My suggestion is to use an assortment of different breads such as dark rye; multigrain and white bread and a variety of coloured fillings, then cut the sandwiches into ribbon, triangle or round sandwich shapes.

The sandwich bread should be covered all the time you are making the sandwiches to keep it moist. Best to have a damp tea towel on hand to keep the cover sandwiches protected and don’t remove too much bread from the packets at once.

Best also to prepare the workspace with all the fillings beforehand so that the sandwiches can be made quickly and covered straight away to keep moist.
The basic Tea sandwich, no matter the shape desired is made by firstly preparing the filling then spooning the filling onto one side of the buttered bread. Close the sandwich and with a sharp serrated knife cut the outer crusts off. Serve on platters.

What fillings to make for dainty High Tea Sandwiches? The fillings should be not too thick and a combination of colours. The ideas for fillings are endless and only limited by your imagination and don’t forget to garnish the trays or platters at the end.

A man’s social standing is determined by the amount of bread he eats in a sandwich.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sandwich Ideas

  • Egg, mustard and watercress.
  • Roast beef, horseradish and rocket
  • Turkey, cranberry and Brie.
  • Egg, mayonnaise and chives
  • Plain tomato
  • Ham and Brie
  • Shrimp Salad
  • Smoked salmon, crème fraiche and cucumber.
  • Poached chicken breast, mayonnaise and avocado.
  • Ham, Swiss cheese and apple.
  • Prawn, chives and chilli mayonnaise.

High Tea Sandwich Tips

  • Always source the freshest and very best possible ingredients.
  • Use bread that is fresh, sliced and thin. If you know a baker ask them to slice the bread lengthways so you can make the ribbons more easily.
  • Buy the bread on the day you are going to use it and do not use the end crust pieces for Tea sandwiches.
  • Make 4 to 6 sandwiches per person.
  • Lightly spread the bread with softened butter no matter what the filling is and season with salt and finely ground white pepper.
  • Use a long sharp serrated knife to cut the crusts off once the sandwiches are made.
  • To keep sandwiches delicate cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally.
  • Don’t make the sandwiches any earlier than is absolutely essential. When sandwiches are not being served immediately wrap them uncut in stacks covered in the fridge. Cut the crusts off before just serving.
  • Do not overfill the sandwiches, as they should be no more than 2 bites in size.

Cucumber Ribbon Sandwiches

Fresh sliced bread 1 loaf

Lebanese cucumbers

4 Olive oil
Salt flakes

Ground white pepper
Creme fraiche 2-3 tablespoons

Finely snipped fresh chives

Peel cucumbers and slice lengthwise into ribbons using a mandolin. Rest the slices on paper towel for about 10 minutes to remove excess moisture.
Lightly brush with olive oil.

Arrange the ribbons on the bread so that they overlap. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper.
Combine crème fraiche and finely chopped chives and spread a thin layer on the opposite bread slice.

Keep moist until served.

What is the most wonderful thing for people like myself who follow the Way of Tea? My answer:
The oneness of host and guest created through ‘meeting heart to heart’ and sharing a bowl of Tea.

Soshitsu Sen, Grand Master XIV

Prawns and Dill Ribbon Sandwich

Cooked peeled prawns, 200 grams Mayonnaise 1/3 cup
Finely chopped dill 2 tablespoons Lemon juice 1 tablespoon

8 slices white bread 8 slices Softened butter 50 grams

Coarsely chop the peeled prawns.
Mix together the prawns, mayonnaise, dill and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a bowl.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the bread on a clean board and spread evenly with butter. Spoon the prawn mixture evenly over half the slices and smooth out. Close the sandwich together with remaining bread slices.
Use a serrated knife to remove and discard the crusts.
Cut each sandwich into thirds to make finger sandwiches.

Chicken, Pine Nut, Chervil Mayonnaise

Finely chopped cooked chicken breast 350 grams

Chervil or cress 2 handfuls
Toasted pine nuts, cooled 120 grams
A loaf of brown or white bread sliced finely

In a mixing bowl add the finely diced chicken and pine nuts.
Add enough mayonnaise to create an easy spreadable consistency. Scatter the chervil or cress over half of the bread slices.
Put the chicken over the chervil and add another slice of bread and press down lightly.
Trim the crusts off each sandwich and cut them into 3 rectangles.

Facts about Sandwiches

Courtesy of

  • An estimated 300 million sandwiches are consumed every day in the US. In Britain, that number is around 31 million.
  • 60% of sandwiches sold globally are actually hamburgers. In fact, if hamburgers are included, sandwiches account for nearly half of all limited-service restaurant sales.
  • The most expensive sandwich ever sold in a restaurant, named the Quintessential Grilled Cheese and made by New York restaurant Serendipity 3, sold for US$214. The most expensive sandwich ever sold anywhere – a grilled toast that seemed to have an image of Virgin Mary on it – sold for US$28,000 on eBay.
  • The Wall Street Journal has described the sandwich as Britain’s “biggest contribution to gastronomy”.
  • The largest sandwich in history weighed 2467.5kg (almost 2.5 tonnes) and was 44cm thick, 3.6m wide and 3.6m long. It contained 68kg of mustard, 468.1kg of corned beef, 117.9kg of cheese, 240.4kg of lettuce and 1,618.4kg of bread.
  • In 2008, an attempt in Iran to beat the record for the world’s biggest sandwich failed when the impatient crowd started eating the sandwich before it was measured.
  • The longest sandwich in history measured 735m.
  • The most layers in a sandwich is 60 and was achieved by DiLusso Deli Company in New York City in October 2016.
  • Hawaii used to be called ‘The Sandwich Islands’, name by Captain James Cook in honour of John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.
  • The verb ‘to sandwich’ is 200 years old and was first used in 1815 to mean ‘to have a light meal’.

Content Di Baker 2020

Any images not my own are courtesy of Wikimedia, Creative Commons and Unsplash